Always surrounded by the sea, with a family heritage of sailing, writing, acting and painting, the O'Malley-Keyes clan of eight children were expected to choose a creative endeavor. Their father, Nial O'Malley-Keyes, was a published author and a world traveler. A man who brought eccentricity to an art form, he demanded that each one of his children choose their personal expression of artistic creation. It could be acting, writing, painting, sculpting, weaving or whatever creative endeavor that interested them. But it was mandatory, that each one of his children chose something artistic, something creative, to do during the summer months. Ms. O'Malley-Keyes embraced painting.
One of her Father's very dearest friends, Andy, was a mainstay in the artist's young life during summer vacations. Andy had a summer studio just down the road from her family's residence in Thomaston Maine. She started out at a very young age cleaning Andy's brushes while her father and Andy spent time together, talking about art and sipping Irish whiskey. As the years went by she was asked to model from time to time and eventually was allowed to work and study during summer holidays with her father's friend, Andrew Wyeth.
Starting in the late 60's, the artist lived in Provincetown during the summer and spent winters in New York City, studying at the Art Students League. During her time in Provincetown she modeled for and studied with Henry Hensche, who's mentor was Charles W. Hawthorne. Ms. O'Malley Keyes is known for her highly detailed oil paintings and she feels that it is a direct result of her time spent in Andy's studio. She credits her deep understanding of color theory to her study with Henry Hensche. She opened her first art gallery in Provincetown in 1970 at the age of 22 and feels that she owes the success that she has had in her artistic career to Andrew Wyeth and Henry Hensche.
"Life these days can be so confusing. My choice of painting in the genre of contemporary realism, using an old masters technique of transparent layers of paint, reflects my desire to simplify what an individual is looking at and through my work, feel that they are in the moment and part of the painting ". It is color, her intense emotional connection to the sea and her fascination with elegant sailing yachts that inspire her. "I have chosen to paint these magnificent sailing yachts as a historical record and for the indescribable joy that I find in painting these elegant queens of the sea".
"Many of the most beautiful sailing yachts ever built have been found in the mud and resurrected by dedicated individuals, most notably Elizabeth Meyer who was instrumental in the restoration of Shamrock V, an elegant J-Class yacht, and more than 80 other classic yachts. These committed individuals have spent millions of dollars, to resurrect and bring back to life, the most beautiful sailing yachts in history, built during the early years of the 20th century."
Julia will occasionally create paintings of the charming harbors on Cape Cod, where she lives and paints. She finds them to be a warm welcome and indicative of where she lives, but her real artistic heart lies in Classic Marine paintings of the historicalJ -Class and big boat class antique sailing yachts. O'Malley- Keyes travels yearly to study with noted Marine painters, to further hone her skills and find continued inspiration in painting the historical yachts that are at the center of her artistic career.